Mary Anne Moorman
Mama and I were diametrically opposed on most things Easter. Spring tumbled over itself in fields of warm sun made for play but mama had clothes to sew, decorations to make, new recipes to conquer. I had balls to throw, baby rabbits to watch, new clover to string into halos. I was everything outside. Mama was everything in. But we met in the middle when it came to the egg and found forgiveness over a rabbit.
Nothing says new life like an egg. Mama drilled us on redemption during Lent but when Palm Sunday came it was all about life. Right after we stored the palms from the annual pageant we raced home to begin egg production. All week Daddy brought home dozens and dozens of eggs from the railroad commissary.
Mama sorted them for baking, boiling and blowing. We spent the rest of Palm Sunday, blowing. Mama took her favorite long sewing needle and poked a tiny hole in each end of the egg. Then just like she was blowing bubbles, she’d squich up her lips and begin to blow.
She’d puff the tiniest little pillows of air into the hole and hope the contents would slip out the other end. This was tricky and it sometimes took a few eggs to get it right. Daddy’s job was to cheer her on when an egg cracked and all the goo ran over her finger like melted butter.
“Its okay honey, they’re perfect for scrambling,” he’d say and pick shells out of Monday’s breakfast. My brothers tied circles of green ribbon to hang the finished egg and mixed the paints.
We used all kinds of coloring on account of brother Shack’s artistic pursuits. Whatever he was painting with wound up on these eggs. This was mama art.
The colors had to be festive and bright , for mama’s egg tree. We could use anything we wanted on our boiled eggs. Those were for the egg rolling contest and the Easter egg hunt. They’d be broken in minutes. But the tree was different.
The tree was like mama’s own thank you to Jesus. Mama blew until she had about two dozen clean white, empty shells all laid out like a canvas. Then she’d dip her dime store brush into water colors, or food dye or even oils if Shack had any, and paint the most marvelous eggs.
By suppertime the kitchen table was a gallery of spring. There were crosses and lilies, faces of the main characters, and baby lambs grazing on new grass. Eggs had to dry overnight but when we came down for scrambled breakfast, the beautiful eggs dangled from their green ribbons on a stick tree.
The exquisite hand painted eggs guarded our front door and welcomed us home as the tension mounted during Easter week. Mama baked every day and sewed. She was determined her children would each wear something new for Easter Sunday even if it meant she had to stay up till dawn sewing a blouse or a new shirt or dress. One Easter she made me a yellow and gray striped suit.
The stripes were hard to match and I had to stand still forever for fittings.. Mama raced the clock on Saturday to finish my skirt hem.
“Mama, it is straight enough,” I’d whine. Mama pinned and tucked while I fidgeted in front of the egg tree.
”Which is your favorite egg,” she asked to distract me. This had gone on for a week and I was tired of egg stories.
“Mama the boys don’t have to come inside and get pinned up,” I complained until she’d finally beg me to hold still before she turned me into the pin cushion.”
I could not stand still. I did not want to stand still and I did not understand why my Lord and Savior needed me wearing new clothes on Easter. Mama said it was the least I could do and told me about Judas as she knelt to re-pin the hem.. I knew she was exhausted. I knew she was just trying to do something for me but I was down to my last raw nerve.
I was about to explode when daddy opened the front door with A newborn brown bunny tucked in his jacket.
“Oh Daddy , daddy daddy let me see” I whirled around to pet this adorable creature and when I did, I smashed right into mama’s egg tree. Painted egg shells flew in all directions. A little lamb face crumbled on the floor.
Palm leaves mounted in crushed bits. Mama burst into tears as Virgin Mary shattered before us. Daddy mumbled unmentionables in my directions. The bunny ducked in fear.
I figured this disaster might prevent Peter Rabbit from leaving chocolates and got to sweeping right away. It was the least I could do for mama. Daddy tried to comfort mama and I scooted out to find the broom at lightening speed. Brothers opened the door to find me crying and sweeping and were so astounded they couldn’t even tease me. This was terrible. No one had ever broken the egg tree not even Ken with his eternal yoyo. They boys almost looked sympathetic as they made peanut butter sandwiches. Mama and Daddy and the rabbit disappeared. This was highly unusual as our parent hung over us most of the time.
As I was falling asleep and wondering if the Easter bunny would cancel his annual appearance, Mama slipped into my room. She had the new bunny in her arms and put him on the pillow. I was about to wail all my sorries to her but mama just gave me a huge hug and crawled in next to me and the bunny.
“It’s almost Easter,” she said “and forever more, we all get a new chance by light of day.”
Mary Anne Moorman is a regular attender of St. Paul's.